'There is life beyond trauma': UHCL alum finds passion supporting trauma victims
Bethany Morgan knew she wanted to be in a "helping" profession, and considered occupational therapy or school counseling, but finally decided on the mental health care profession, ultimately choosing to work with trauma patients to help them see that they need not remain "stuck" or feel they can't heal and move forward from their painful life experiences.
When she moved to Galveston and found out that University of Houston-Clear Lake had a program accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, she knew she was in the right place.
"Taking courses in a program with the CACREP accreditation was a differentiator for me," she said. "It meant I could leave the program better prepared than if I went to a university without this accreditation. I was looking for a high-quality program and having it makes a difference in getting internships and employers find candidates who come from a program like this more appealing."
She received her Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from UH-Clear Lake in 2018.
"Another factor that made it all work for me was that the program was flexible," she said. "It was six hours of classes, but just one day a week. I was pregnant and did not have to take any time off when my son was born. I was able to be present with him when he was little, while still pursuing what I wanted."
She said she knew other students were holding down full-time jobs while in the program, and were also managing well. "I just missed one day of school the entire time," she said. "My professors were always willing to work with me. Most importantly, I got the training I needed."
Because UHCL's Clinical Mental Health Counseling program has the CACREP accreditation, Morgan said expectations were a bit higher. "I had to commit to an extra year, but I know I had a higher quality education," she said. "The certification I have is the gold standard in counseling programs."
She added that with this certification, she can transfer to any state in the future and continue working. "This certification says the program I completed meets nationwide requirements, she said.
Morgan said she chose trauma as her career path after interning at the Montgomery County Women's Shelter, where she worked with women who were sexual and domestic abuse survivors.
"With trauma, you either decide this is what you want to do, or it's not what you want to do," she said. "It's important for me because I'm passionate about it, and not many people are trained in trauma. People go into counseling and try to heal, but sometimes the therapist just isn't trained to respond in a trauma-informed way."
Morgan, who resides in Tyler, said that is one reason why she is happy to be working where she is. "I own a practice called Counseling Nook for Trauma and Dissociation," she said. "There aren't very many mental health services here. I am Spanish bilingual and I do exclusively telehealth, so I can help anyone, anywhere. I want people to know there is life beyond trauma. It can be all consuming and affect daily life, but it's possible to become free of it."
For anyone considering going back to school while pregnant or with small children, Morgan said she thought it would be difficult, but it turned out to be manageable. "I have a profession that is my own, and I have a lot of flexibility in my career so I can work and have my family," she said. "I have seen the other side of trauma and I've experienced things I never thought I'd get over. I think I can help people who feel they can't heal. I don't want people to think they will always need therapy. My goal is to work myself out of a job."
For more information about UHCL's Counseling programs, go online.